The 14th-ranked Nebraska softball team will face two more ranked teams this weekend when the Huskers travel to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic. NU will play five games in three days at Anderson Family Field, located on the Cal State Fullerton campus.
The Huskers bring a 12-6 record into this weekend’s tournament. Eight of Nebraska’s 18 games this season have come against ranked teams. Each of the Huskers’ eight ranked opponents were ranked in the top 15 at first pitch and all eight opponents have also earned a top-10 ranking at least once this season. NU owns a 3-5 record against ranked opponents this spring, including a 1-4 mark against teams ranked in the top 10 this week.
Nebraska will have a chance to improve upon that mark this weekend, as the Huskers face a pair of top-10 opponents in the first two days of the tournament. NU opens play on Friday against No. 7 Arizona State, before facing sixth-ranked Washington in Saturday’s second game. Both the Sun Devils and Huskies joined Nebraska in Oklahoma City for the 2013 Women’s College World Series, as the Huskers are preparing for their fourth and fifth games against a 2013 WCWS squad in an 11-game stretch.
In addition to the ranked foes this weekend, the Huskers will also face three quality unranked opponents. Nebraska wraps up Friday action at the Judi Garman Classic against San Jose State, who leads the Mountain West Conference in wins and is 2-0 against Big Ten teams this spring. Before facing No. 6 Washington on Saturday, the Huskers will square off against host Cal State Fullerton. The Titans own victories over No. 12 Baylor and No. 13 Oklahoma this season. Nebraska will conclude its weekend on Sunday against a Fresno State squad that owns a 10-5 record. Each of the Bulldogs’ five losses this season have come at the hands of a ranked team, including one-run losses to top-five opponents Tennessee (5-4) and Oregon (10-9).
Fans can listen to all five games this weekend on Huskers.com, with veteran softball play-by-play announcer Nate Rohr calling all of the action. A free live video stream of Saturday’s game against Cal State Fullerton will also be available. The Huskers are coming off a 3-1 performance last weekend, when Nebraska swept a doubleheader at Oklahoma State and split a doubleheader at 13th-ranked Oklahoma.
The Husker offense exploded for 40 hits, six doubles, one triple and six home runs in the four games last weekend, batting .328 as a team and averaging just under six runs per game. Senior Tatum Edwards was named the Big Ten Player of the Week after batting .500 with one double, one homer and seven RBIs.
Scouting the Arizona State Sun Devils (21-3)
Arizona State owns a 21-3 record after defeating Detroit on Monday and Longwood on Tuesday. The Sun Devils dropped from No. 3 to seventh in this week’s rankings. ASU opened the year with 18 consecutive wins before dropping three of their final four games last weekend, including a 3-2 loss to No. 19 Minnesota.
The Sun Devil offense is averaging 7.2 runs per game, while slugging 33 home runs in 24 games. All-American Amber Freeman paces the Sun Devils with a blistering .467 average that includes four doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs. Elizabeth Caporuscio leads the team with eight doubles to complement a .403 average, while All-American Alix Johnson is batting .350 with seven doubles, four homers, 19 RBIs and a team-high 19 walks and nine stolen bases. All-American Cheyenne Coyle is tied for the team lead with 22 RBIs, while Haley Steele owns a .366 average to round out six Sun Devil regulars hitting .350 or better. Bethany Kemp has slugged a team-best seven home runs.
In the circle, two-time All-American Dallas Escobedo headlines an ASU staff that boasts a 1.23 ERA and allows just 1.5 runs per game, while limiting opposing hitters to a paltry .180 average with only 13 extra-base hits and four home runs in 538 at bats. Escobedo is 8-2 with a 0.93 ERA in 68.0 innings. She has thrown a shutout in six of her 11 starts and opponents are hitting just .116 against her. Escobedo has struck out 113 batters - an average of 11.6 strikeouts per seven innings - while walking only 11. Mackenzie Popescue has shared the innings with Escobedo, posting a perfect 11-0 record with a 1.01 ERA in 62.2 innings. Alexis Cooper (2-0, 3.42 ERA in 14.1 IP) and Jenna Makis (0-0, 2.33 ERA in 3.0 IP) round out the ASU staff.
Arizona State leads the all-time series, 20-10. The Sun Devils have won nine straight in the series dating back to 1999. The nine-game losing streak to ASU marks NU’s second-longest losing streak to a single opponent in school history. It also ties NU’s longest active losing streak to a single opponent (UCLA).
Scouting the San Jose State Spartans (11-6)
San Jose State owns an 11-6 record heading into this weekend. Three of the Spartans’ six losses have come to top-10 opponents.
SJSU is averaging 6.3 runs per game while hitting .313 as a team. Jessie Hufstetler is off to an outstanding start, batting .540 with six doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs. She has also drawn a team-high 16 walks to post a .652 on-base percentage. Devin Caldwell is hitting .364 and Jessica Garcia owns a .357 average with team-high totals of four homers and 28 RBIs. Alyssa Martinez (.310) and Sharon-Renae Estrada (.308) round out the .300 hitters.
In the circle, SJSU is allowing 5.5 runs per game with a 5.03 ERA, but San Jose State has limited four of its last six opponents to two runs or less, including 1-0 losses to No. 6 Washington and North Carolina. Allison Lang has seen the most action, appearing in 14 of the Spartans’ 17 games. She owns a 6-2 record with a 2.51 ERA and opponents are hitting .260 against her with six home runs. Katelyn Linford boasts a 3-2 record with a 5.86 ERA in 28.2 innings, including a team-high six starts. Madison Fish has also seen extensive action, compiling a 2-1 record with a 5.43 ERA in 19.1 innings. Berlyn Rippentrop (0-1, 5.11 ERA in 12.1 IP), Erin Rodriguez (0-0, 14.00 ERA in 2.0 IP) and Colette Riggs (0-0, 28.00 ERA in 3.0 IP) round out the Spartan staff.
Nebraska leads the all-time series with San Jose State, 6-3. NU has won three straight in the series dating back to 1999. Rhonda Revelle spent four seasons as an assistant at San Jose State from 1989 to 1992 prior to returning to her alma mater to become the Husker head coach. SJSU went 1-1 against NU in Revelle’s tenure.
Scouting the Cal State Fullerton Titans (12-7)
Cal State Fullerton had its games rained out last weekend, but it was back in action Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over Loyola. CSUF hosts Grand Canyon on Wednesday looking to improve upon its 12-7 record that includes a pair of victories over ranked foes.
CSUF is averaging 4.7 runs per game while batting .270 as a team. The Titans have slugged 17 home runs in 19 games. Missy Taukeiaho is batting a team-high .351, one of three Titans hitting better than .300. Taukeiaho has added four homers and 11 RBIs, while drawing a team-best 10 walks. Ariel Tsuchiyama owns a .340 average and leads the team with 13 RBIs. Desiree Ybarra is batting .318 with a pair of homers. Gabby Aragon has also homered twice and driven in 12 runs, while Eliza Crawford has slugged a team-high five home runs.
In the circle, Cal State Fullerton owns a 3.02 staff ERA and is allowing 3.3 runs per game. Jasmine Antunez has logged the most innings, compiling a 6-4 record with a 3.58 ERA in 45.0 innings. She has appeared in 15 of CSUF’s 19 games, including 11 starts. Christin Washington boasts a 2-3 record with a 3.07 ERA in 41.0 innings and opponents are hitting .302 against her. Ybarra has posted a 4-0 record with a 0.61 ERA in 23.0 innings, adding one save in nine appearances while limiting opponents to a .179 average. Monique Wesley (0-0, 4.81 ERA in 16.0 IP) has added one save to round out the Titan staff.
Nebraska trails the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton, 8-7. Nebraska won the most recent meeting in 2011, and the Huskers have won five of the last six meetings dating back to 2002. NU is 1-2 all-time at Cal State Fullerton, most recently earning an 8-0 run-rule victory at the 2005 Kia Klassic (now the Judi Garman Classic).
Scouting the Washington Huskies (16-2)
Washington climbed one spot to No. 6 in this week’s rankings following a perfect 3-0 record last weekend. UW opened the year with 11 straight victories before losing two of its next three games. The 16-2 Huskies have rebounded with four straight victories, outscoring their opponents 27-0 in those wins.
Offensively, Washington is averaging a whopping 7.8 runs per game, including three games where the Huskies have score at least 16 runs. UW is hitting .363 as a team with 17 home runs. Four Huskies are batting better than .400, while three others are hitting above .300. Victoria Hayward leads the way with a .464 average and nine stolen bases, while Ali Aguilar is hitting .455 with three homers and 16 RBIs. Kylee Lahners owns a .451 average and has posted team-high totals of seven homers and 30 RBIs. Whitney Jones rounds out the .400 hitters with a .417 average that includes a team-best nine doubles. Among the .300 hitters, two-time All-American Kaitlin Inglesby owns a .333 average with two homers and 11 RBIs, while she has also drawn 16 walks to post a .500 on-base percentage.
In the circle, Washington has posted eight shutouts in 18 games, allowing an average of only 1.3 runs per game. The senior tandem of Inglesby and Bryana Walker handle the majority of the workload for the Washington staff, and often appear in the same game. Walker is 10-1 with a 1.11 ERA in a team-high 57.0 innings. Opponents are hitting just .193 against her and have struck out 78 times, while drawing only 14 walks. Inglesby owns a 4-1 record with a 1.40 ERA in 40.0 innings. Kasey Stancheck (2-0, 1.17 ERA in 12.0 IP) rounds out the staff.
Washington leads the all-time series 9-3, including a 4-3 come-from-behind, eight-inning win in the opening game of last year’s Women’s College World Series. UW has won five straight in the series and nine of the last 10.
Scouting the Fresno State Bulldogs (10-5)
Fresno State brings a 10-5 record into the Judi Garman Classic after it was rained out last weekend. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last 10 games, with losses only to top-10 opponents Arizona and Tennessee and then-No. 25 Texas during that stretch. All five of the Bulldogs’ losses this season are to ranked teams.
FSU is batting .257 and averaging 5.1 runs per game. Vonnie Martin leads the way with a .341 average with two homers, 12 RBIs and a team-best 13 walks. Brenna Moss is the only other Bulldog hitting above .300, as she owns a .327 average with a team-high eight stolen bases. Stesha Brazil is the top slugger with team-high totals of four homers, 22 RBIs and a .604 slugging percentage.
In the circle, Fresno State owns a 2.98 ERA and is allowing just under four runs per game. Jill Compton has thrown just more than half of the Bulldogs’ total innings, compiling a 6-3 record with a 2.39 ERA in 52.2 innings. Taylor Langdon owns a 1-0 record with a 3.55 ERA in 21.2 innings, while Hannah Harris is 3-0 with a 4.55 ERA in 20.0 innings. Kiley Shae Aldridge (0-2, 1.05 ERA in 6.2 IP) rounds out the staff.
NU trails the all-time series with Fresno State, 12-8. The Huskers won the last meeting in the 2011 Stanford Regional, but the Huskers have lost three of the last four meetings, six of the last eight and 11 of the last 14.
The information below provides a quick glimpse of a few brief notes heading into the Judi Garman Classic this weekend, where the Huskers will face a pair of top-10 opponents.
- The Huskers are 446-253 (.638) all-time in the month of March. NU posted a 14-3 record last March.
- 23 of the 45 runs Nebraska has allowed this season have scored with two outs (51 percent).
- 18 of the 28 runs Nebraska has allowed to ranked opponents this season have scored with two outs (64 percent).
- Nebraska’s six losses this season have come to teams with a combined 94-22 record (.810).
- Four of the six teams to beat Nebraska this season are ranked in the top 10 this week.
- Nebraska is 12-2 this season when recording at least five hits, but is 0-4 when totaling fewer than five hits.
- The Huskers are 11-1 this season when scoring first.
- NU slugged six home runs in four games last weekend, after totaling eight home runs in its first 14 games.
- Nebraska also hit six doubles last week after producing 11 doubles through its first 14 games.
- NU has lost nine consecutive games to Arizona State, tying for NU’s longest active losing streak vs. any opponent.
- Overall, NU has lost 10 consecutive games to an opponent only once in school history, an 11-game losing streak to Arizona from 1989 to 2011.
- The Edwards twins have homered in the same game nine times in their careers.
- Tatum Edwards needs four runs to reach 100 runs scored in her career.
- Tatum Edwards needs one double to become the sixth Husker with 30 career doubles and 30 career homers.
- Tatum Edwards is three RBIs shy of cracking Nebraska’s all-time top 10 in RBIs.
- Taylor Edwards is one home run shy of becoming the third Husker to hit 40 career home runs.
- Taylor Edwards is expected to make her 80th consecutive start at catcher against Arizona State on Friday.
- Hailey Decker is expected to make her 80th consecutive start at second base against Arizona State on Friday.
Taylor Edwards on 21-Game Hitting Streak
Senior Taylor Edwards has hit safely in all 18 games this season, and she owns a hit in 21 consecutive games dating back to game three of last year’s NCAA Super Regional at No. 3 Oregon. Edwards’ 21-game hitting streak is the second-longest in school history, as she has joined Anne Steffan as the only players in program history to record a 20-game hitting streak. Steffan’s school-record 26-game hitting streak would be matched if Edwards were to hit safely in all five games this weekend.
In addition to posting the second-longest hitting streak in school history, Edwards has established the longest hitting streak to open a season in NU history by collecting a hit in each of Nebraska’s first 18 games this spring. Edwards is hitting .475 (29-for-61) this season and overall, she owns a .459 average (34-for-74) during her 21-game hitting streak with three doubles and four home runs. Edwards has produced nine multi-hit efforts during her hitting streak, including eight multi-hit games this season.
Edwards’ hitting streak is made more impressive by the fact that NU has faced a top-15 opponent in 11 of the 21 games during the streak. During that time, Edwards has faced off against an All-America pitcher seven times.
Offense Enjoys Breakout Weekend
Nebraska’s offense broke out in a big way last weekend, hitting .328 while averaging nearly six runs per game in four games against quality Big 12 Conference opponents. Nebraska added six doubles, one triple and six home runs to post a .541 slugging percentage, while drawing six walks and four hit-by-pitches to post a .406 on-base percentage. The Huskers’ .328 average, .541 slugging percentage and .406 on-base percentage last weekend were up from a .272 average, .372 slugging percentage and .359 on-base percentage entering the weekend.
NU’s most noticeable improvement was in the power department, where the Huskers produced six doubles, one triple and six home runs. Nebraska averaged 3.3 extra-base hits per game last weekend, after averaging only just 1.4 extra-base hits per game over the first three weeks. NU established a season high with three home runs in game one at Oklahoma State last Friday, then slugged a season-high four doubles in game two at Oklahoma the next day. Nebraska also matched its season high with 12 hits and 19 totals bases in game two against the Cowgirls, only to exceed both totals with 15 hits and 24 total bases in game two against the Sooners.
Individually, freshmen MJ Knighten and Austen Urness each hit their first career home run in Oklahoma, while sophomores Kiki Stokes and Dawna Tyson each recorded their first career double last weekend. Each of those four players also set or tied at least one career high. Overall, NU’s hitters combined to match or tie their career highs in 23 offensive categories last weekend, while tying or exceeding their previous season high in 38 categories.
Stat of the Week
Senior Tatum Edwards, sophomore Dawna Tyson and freshmen MJ Knighten and Austen Urness each hit their first home run of the season last weekend. Nine Huskers have homered this season, one shy of the school record. Senior Taylor Edwards leads the way with three homers, while sophomores Alicia Armstrong, Hailey Decker and Kiki Stokes have each homered twice. Junior Kylee Muir has homered once, along with Tatum Edwards, Tyson, Knighten and Urness. NU has the chance this weekend to pencil in a starting lineup where every player in the order has homered. That has only happened 19 times (all in 2011) in the 1,776 games played in program history (1 percent).
Tyson Fills in Well for Fowler
Sophomore Dawna Tyson has started seven straight games at first base since Mattie Fowler suffered a season-ending injury. Tyson, who had split time as Nebraska’s starting designated player through the first two weeks of the season, has adjusted well to her everyday role. Not only has she posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at first, but her offensive production has increased since she moved into an everyday starting role.
Tyson was just 2-for-19 before becoming NU’s starting first baseman. Since moving to first, Tyson is 5-for-23 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. She prepared as Nebraska’s starting first baseman for the first time last week, and produced impressive results in road doubleheaders at Oklahoma State and No. 13 Oklahoma. Tyson went 4-for-14 in Oklahoma, with her first career double and first home run of the season. Her four hits and two RBIs doubled her season totals entering last weekend.
Fowler Suffers Season-Ending Injury
Junior co-captain Mattie Fowler underwent season-ending knee surgery in the final week of February. Fowler started Nebraska’s first 11 games at first base, but suffered an injury in the top of the first inning against Arizona on Feb. 21. Fowler was off to a strong start in her second season as Nebraska’s first baseman. She was hitting .357 (10-for-28) before the injury with a double, five RBIs and a .441 on-base percentage. Fowler is eligible to apply for an NCAA medical hardship waiver, which would grant her a fifth year of softball eligibility.
Tatum Edwards Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Tatum Edwards was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday, following an outstanding weekend in Oklahoma. The award was the first of Edwards’ career, although she is a four-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honoree, earning the accolade twice in 2012 and two more times in 2013.
Edwards recorded a hit in each of the Huskers’ four games last weekend, collecting six hits in 12 at bats to finish with a .500 average, one double, one home run and seven RBIs. Edwards finished her stay in Oklahoma with an .833 slugging percentage and a .600 on-base percentage.
In a doubleheader at Oklahoma State, Edwards went 2-for-6 with a homer, a walk and four RBIs. She hit her second career grand slam to break open a close game in the nightcap. The next day at No. 13 Oklahoma, Edwards finished 4-for-6 with a double, two walks and three RBIs against the defending national champion Sooners.
Huskers Continue Challenging Schedule
Nebraska continues its challenging early-season schedule this weekend by facing a pair of top-10 teams at the Judi Garman Classic. NU opens the tournament by taking on No. 7 Arizona State on Friday, then faces sixth-ranked Washington on Saturday. The game against the Huskies will mark Nebraska’s 10th game against a ranked opponent in its first 22 games of the season, with each ranked opponent the Huskers have faced earning a top-10 ranking at least once this season. The matchup with the Huskies will also wrap up a three-week stretch where Nebraska faced eight ranked opponents in a 13-game stretch.
Of the teams ranked in the top 25 this week, Nebraska has played more fellow ranked teams than any other team in the polls. The Huskers own a 3-5 record against ranked foes this season - all against top-15 opponents - as Nebraska owns the third-most wins over a ranked team, trailing only Arizona (4) and UCLA (4). The Huskers’ eight games played against ranked opponents are two more games against top-25 competition than any other ranked team has face this season.
Two-Out Troubles Plaguing Nebraska vs. Ranked Opponents
Nebraska is 3-5 against ranked opponents this spring, with four losses coming to teams currently ranked in the top 10. The difference between winning and losing has often come down to one out, as NU has struggled to get the crucial third out of an inning in its losses to ranked opponents.
In its five losses to ranked teams, Nebraska has allowed 18 of its 28 opponent runs to score with two outs (67 percent). NU is allowing an average of 5.6 runs per game in its five losses to top-25 opponents this spring, but a timely third out would lower that average to 2.0 runs per game.
Breaking down these statistics in a game-by-game fashion illustrate just how close Nebraska has been to being in a position to beat some of the best teams in the nation. In the Huskers’ 5-1 loss to No. 9 Florida State, all five Seminoles runs scored with two outs, as a well-timed third out would have ended every scoring inning for FSU before a run had crossed home plate. In a 5-3 loss to No. 2 Tennessee, four of the five runs NU allowed scored with two outs, costing the Huskers an upset. In a 6-2 loss to No. 3 UCLA, five of the six runs the Bruins scored crossed home plate with two outs, as a timely third out would have limited UCLA to just one run in the game. Last weekend, NU fell to No. 13 Oklahoma, 5-4, as the Sooners scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally for a victory. Four of the five runs scored with two outs, including the game-winning, walk-off RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
In its three wins against ranked opponents, Nebraska has been much better at preventing two-out rallies, holding opponents to just three two-out runs in a 4-3 victory over Florida State, a 3-2 win over No. 13 Texas A&M and a 7-2 victory at No. 13 Oklahoma.
For comparison’s sake, Nebraska has been dominant with two outs against non-ranked teams. Unranked opponents are hitting just .070 (5-for-71) with two outs against the Huskers and have scored only a pair of two-out runs in 10 games.